Photo: 5th- and 6th-graders participate in WARP with English teacher, Isaac.

At North Country School, we believe that nurturing a child’s curiosity and wonder is a crucial part of the educational experience. When we were founded over eighty years ago, Walter and Leonora Clark knew that these aspects of learning and growing didn’t just occur in the academic classroom, but when children were given the space and the time to use their imaginations and to play. Today, North Country School continues to be that place to play, where students can be silly, can imagine new worlds, and can be creative together. This aspect of our philosophy is never more evident than during our annual WARP, or Wilderness Active Role Play, event.

Each year, WARP invites our entire school community to embark on fantastical quests, battle monsters in the name of good, and solve riddles together using shared knowledge. Though we have had to restructure WARP this year in order to keep our community healthy and safe—instead of one big, community-wide event it’s now spread over 10 sessions with smaller groups—it is clear that none of the magic has been lost. Over the past few weeks we have loved watching our students adventuring through our campus woods, donning homemade costumes as they embarked on magical quests. We are grateful for the opportunity to preserve this part of childhood for the students in our care, and will continue to adapt to the new challenges that come our way, making sure to take that necessary time to simply play.


Top: Rob shows 4th grade how to make rope. Middle 1: Tiago makes rope. Middle 2: Melissa teaches English in the butterfly house. Middle 3: Grace writes poetry on the Mountain Bench. Bottom:Tyler writes poetry in a crabapple tree. 

This week our students spent time in our outdoor classroom spaces learning new skills as well as delving deeper into their existing interests. As part of their unit learning about Indigenous groups in the Adirondack region, our 4th-grade social studies students began constructing a model of a Haudenosaunee longhouse. 7th-grade teacher Rob visited the class to talk about how early civilizations used natural materials to make cordage, and led the group in a cordage-making activity. Some of the cordage made will be incorporated into the larger structure as the class gets further into the longhouse construction process.

Melissa’s 8th-grade English students enjoyed the views from the Butterfly House this week for their Reading in the Zone: Finding “Just Right” Books conversation, where they discussed the value of reading books about a variety of subjects and with varying levels of difficulty. They also spent time working on their original poetry by the crabapple trees and on the Mountain Bench, which was built by graduating 9th graders several years ago and depicts a 360-view of the mountains surrounding the NCS campus.

Top: Garth’s geometry class has fun with their math activity. Middle: Eden corrects a geometry problem. Bottom: Correcting a geometry problem. 

Garth’s 9th-grade geometry class had a great time with math this week as they reviewed what they’ve been learning in their constructions unit. By using a compass and straightedge to work through problems, the students acted as the teachers, grading a fake test with incorrect answers. After finding the errors present in each answer, the group shared their conclusions with their peers.


Top: River and his coaster. Middle: Duncan sands his coaster. Bottom: Elie shows his students how to sand in the outdoor woodshop. 

Over in the woodshop, our 5th- and 6th-graders continued to work on their coaster projects at our outdoor workshop stations. The projects, inspired by the Offerman Woodshop and woodworker Krys Shelley, allows students to practice some of their foundational woodworking skills including designing, measuring, hand-cutting, hand-sanding, and gluing. Many of our students plan to give the coasters–which are made from campus maple—as gifts to their friends and family members for the holiday season.

Top: Noni winds up campus yarn. Middle 1: Grace needle felts a Coraline doll. Middle 2: Needle felting a face. Middle 3: Josie needle felts a cat. Bottom: Colorful campus wool.

Arts students at North Country School are able to use the wool sheared from our sheep for many different types of fiber projects. Some of our wool is spun into yarn that is used for knitting projects and is woven into pillows and blankets on our looms, while some is kept unspun and used for needle felting. This week our 8th-grade artists began their creative needle-felting projects, and we were excited to see the vibrant wool take form as Josie’s cat, Maple, as Tyler’s sunset landscape, and as Grace’s recreation of the Coraline doll from the stop-motion film, Coraline.


Top: 5th- and 6th-graders participate in WARP. Middle 1: Sophie “Lord of the Rebels” in her WARP costume. Middle 2: Looking for WARP clues. Middle 3: 9th graders Ella and Teagan as magical characters in WARP. Bottom: A fork in the road. 

At North Country School, our annual WARP, or Wilderness Active Role Play, event is a highly anticipated day of the year. In the past, WARP has taken place as an all-day, all-school event where students and teachers dress in homemade costumes, wield foam swords, and battle monsters throughout our campus woods. As with many things this year, we have had to change parts of WARP in order to keep our community safe and healthy, but we haven’t lost any of the spirit behind this fun event. 9th-grader Ella took on the restructuring of WARP as an independent study project, and has created different WARP out-times for each grade level that incorporate academic content into their different challenges. In order to succeed in their quests, students must use what they have learned in their classes, finding clues, and deciphering riddles alongside their in-character teachers. Though this year’s WARP may look a bit different, our students have still been having a blast working together while exploring campus, just as they always have during this whimsical and immersive event.

Top: A walk in the autumn woods. Middle 1: Rock climbing at the Climbing Crag. Middle 2: Building the campus treehouse. Middle 3: Trail work on the Skihill. Bottom: Steven in a leaf pile. 

Our campus was the perfect autumnal playground this week, and students took full advantage of the beautiful weather while exploring the trails during out-times and on weekend trips. One group of students got in some quality time rock climbing at the Crag, while another spent the afternoon working on the campus treehouse, which is being rebuilt from the ground up as part of this fall’s Design and Build arts class. On Saturday, a group of our older students worked hard for the community while doing some trail maintenance on our Skihill, getting the terrain in top shape for what we hope will be a winter season full of skiing and snowboarding. Meanwhile, all across campus, we watched as our entire student body had a ball while participating in that timeless autumn activity–jumping in leaf piles.


Top: Grace L. on a horse. Middle: Saturday trail ride. Bottom: Grace D. with the sheep. 

The beautiful autumn backdrop also provided our students the perfect opportunity to spend time on horseback. This past week saw students riding horses during Wednesday homenight—an afternoon and evening set aside for students to spend time with their housemates and houseparents—as well as on weekend trips and during out-times. One Saturday trip took a trail ride around Dexter Pasture, before heading down to the barn to say hello to our flock of sheep and our goats, Dumbo and Bambi.

Top: Tess shows Zachary the seeder. Middle 1: Koga uses the seeder to plant spinach. Middle 2: Landon shells dried beans. Bottom: Dry beans waiting to be shelled. 

In our 8th-grade Edible Schoolyard class, students have been learning about seeds, seed saving, and seed sovereignty—the right of growers to save and replant non-GMO seeds. This week students spent time in the greenhouses, working with Garden Manager Tess to sort through the Vermont cranberry beans they’d harvested the week before. After a lesson on winter greenhouse growing, each student took a turn seeding spinach using the Earthway seeder. The spinach planted will grow slowly in our unheated greenhouse throughout the cold winter months, and be ready to harvest as our first greens in the early spring. The colorful dried beans will be stored and used throughout the year in our campus dining room.

Check back next week to see what we’re up to on our mountain campus.

For more information about the #ThisWeekAtNCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .